Time of Traditions

Happy (belated) Halloween!

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Though Spring takes the lead for my favorite season, I must say that this time of the year brings me immense joy. It’s the time of traditions.

First of all, there’s Halloween (which is then followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years). And while I generally don’t like horror movies, gore and the whole being scared out of your mind thing (I have an overactive imagination ok?), I LOVE Halloween. And what’s not to love? Gore aside, there are friends, fun, decoration, candy, and above all creativity. I’ll take any excuse to exercise creativity, gather with friends, and don a costume

…and binge on succulent sweets (the chocolate addict in me cannot lie).

I usually start brainstorming somewhere around summer, using the following months to piece the costume together, and adding details only an OCD person would notice. I blame my mom with all her infinite creativity. I had a homemade costume almost every year, and by 4th grade, I was making my own. Plus, my neighborhood was THE neighborhood for trick or treating. Haunted sidewalks, spooky backyard mazes, and webbed front porches became the norm during the weeks before Halloween. The bar was set high and I wanted to keep it that way. Continue reading

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On Living Abroad

It’s funny how living abroad makes you hold on to things from home more than you usually would. I’ve visited, backpacked, studied and stayed with friends abroad, but living in another country has created a shift in my mentality especially as my life becomes increasingly intertwined with something that was once so foreign.

More often than not, when travelling I would let go of my “americansims”, try to quiet down, blend in, learn a little language, taste the local foods, and do as the locals. When Bush was president, and I was backpacking through Europe, I didn’t dare utter that I was Texan. I almost told people I was Canadian in an effort to avoid the Bush shame. But when you live in a place and your idea of home starts to shift, you find pieces of your identity, pockets of your home and covet it like an irrational gollum creature.

“Damn right I’m from Texas!”

“Of course we’re celebrating Halloween…and Thanksgiving…and Christmas, and Valentines- ALL the celebratory American occasions!!!”

“What do you mean they don’t have triple sec? What kind of godforsaken land is this?!”

“I finally found black beans!! They actually exist!! Don’t touch! My precious….”

…You don’t want to imagine the greedy hoarding that would take place if I found refried beans. Continue reading

Thursday Thoughts

I think it’s time to give up TexMex. Yes, even though I’ve been living in France for almost a month now, I’ve still tried to concoct various texmex meals. It’s always been a staple of mine. But after last night’s fiesta fail, I think it’s time to toss in the towel. I’ve taken refried beans, black beans, even cheddar and limes for granted. I thought there was a glimmer of hope when I found the “tex mex” isle, but the only beans are kidney beans, their salsa tastes like sweet ketchup with a mask of spice and their guacamole resembles only what I can describe as spicy goo. No bueno. Diego and I cringed and commiserated over the awfulness that is French Tex Mex and the multitude of meals that we missed, while Ilka happily slathered on the salsa, telling us that it reminded her of the popular curry ketchup in Germany. So until I find limes, ripe avocados, proper salsa ingredients and receive my shipment of real beans, I must bid Tex Mex adieu… for now….

This is the first time I’m missing the holiday season. True, I’ve been away from family and have not been home for Thanksgiving in quite some time, but this is the first time I’m out of the country at this time of the year. It’s strange to feel the cultural divide and homesickness, not from food or feeling unhappy, but from feelings of missing out. I love this time of year and I love Halloween. Honestly what’s not to love? Candy and creativity?! Halloween provides the perfect playground for my creativity to run wild. It’s strange not to be picking apples, drinking cider, carving pumpkins, watching horribly cheesy horror movies,and meticulously preparing the details of my costume. However, I have discovered that with the right people, Halloween can be possible. Last night the american assistants and I rallied Ilka and Diego into donning Halloween flair, dancing to thriller and monster mash, watching Hocus Pocus and gorging on candy. I know I’m in France, but old habits die hard I guess. Wonder what this year’s tacky holiday party will be like…

English is weird.  It’s fascinating to learn more about my own language as I study a foreign one. And I’ve come to the conclusion that English is indeed very strange. We have multiple ways of saying the same thing and overcomplicated ways of expressing ourselves. We use strange fillers and words that really aren’t all that necessary. Must we always insert ‘kind of’ into everything? Was it really ‘kind of a long way’ or ‘kinda a hot day’?   Why did we ‘used to’ do things? Why don’t we just say what we did? Living on the border of Germany and living with a German has opened my eyes to what a mix we are. We are part French (latin) and part Germanic. For example freedom (German) and liberty (French) are two completely different words commonly used to express the same thing. We not only have a multitude of words to choose from, but also lengthy ways of expressing things. For example we say ‘to laugh at someone else’s pain’, while the Germans just use one word “Schadenfreude”. That word would have come in handy growing up in my family…

And finally, apparently I’m inappropriate in French (**relatives be advised). I know it comes with the new language territory, but I’ve set a record for myself in the past couple of weeks. Somehow I have managed to say one dirty statement after another. First I told Diego that instead of having mosquito bites all over my body I had “beaucoup des bites,” or the french slang word for penis all over me. First fail. Then as I was happily carrying on a conversation with my host in Besancon about the differences between French and American cuisine, I added that there are many more “préservatifs”, or condoms, in American food. I even knew not to say that one! Fail. And finally when I was hosted for the wonderful raclette feast, I was describing the pickle smell in my room but some how instead of saying ‘cornichons’, I said ‘gornichons’, which roughly translates to slang for big boobs. So apparently I have penises on my body, condoms in my food and the smell of big breasts in my room. Big time fail. I think I’ll stop speaking now…

And with that. I conclude my Thursday thoughts. Maybe I’ll continue Thursday Thoughts and start Fromage Fridasy. That one’s a must. My goal is to be a fromage connoisseur by the end of my stay here. But for now, I must prepare for my classes, Antoine’s arrival, and the road trip to Prague! Toussiant is finally here and tomorrow after 1:30 my two week vacation commences!